Women In Poland Are Striking For Their Reproductive Rights
The Debrief: A new law proposes to completely ban abortion in Poland
Today women in Poland are striking to protest against a proposed total ban on abortion in the country. Dressed in black and waving black flags, they are staging national demonstrations against a new law which would bring the ban into place.
Women who are against the ban are staying away from work, school and domestic chores in an echo of a similar strike which took place in Iceland in 1975. Women in London have also demonstrated their support for and solidarity with Polish women.
According to the BBC the city hall in Czestochowa, Southern Poland, allowed female staff to take the day off while other business have closed to enable women to protest.
However, the BBC also notes that anti-abortion protests are also being held across the country.
Poland already has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe. Only Ireland and Malta have more restrictive laws than Poland.
As things stand it is a crime to terminate a pregnancy unless it’s under one of the following circumstances:
- When the mother’s health is in jeopardy
- Cases of rape or incest
- Where there is a detectable problem with the unborn child
Since the beginning of this year women have been forced to protest for these very limited reproductive rights after the country’s Prime Minister, Beata Szydlo, expressed her support for an all-out ban on abortion.
If the law which is currently being proposed by the government, and has already got through the first stage in parliament, goes through then it will put Polish abortion law on a par with Malta.
It will mean that women who have abortions and get found out will be punished with a maximum five-year prison term. Any doctor who carries out or assists an abortion will also be liable for time in prison.
Polish women are striking for their right to safe abortion and to have control over their own bodies. Meanwhile, the country’s foreign minister has publically criticised them for doing so. Speaking to Associated Press, Witold Waszczykowski said: ‘we expect serious debate on questions of life, death and birth. We do not expect happenings, dressing in costumes and creating artificial problems.’
However, these problems are far from artificial. In 2012 the European Court of Human Rights slammed Poland's flawed abortion laws and called for urgent reform to the country's restrictive conditions for obtaining a safe and legal abortion. If this new law comes into effect the situation for women in Poland will only worsen, forcing them to choose between carrying a pregnancy to term and facing the prospect of a prison sentence if they opt for an illegal and unsafe abortion.
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